Aculove

I’ve recently changed practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

My last one was, how do we say … an unwavering, belligerent tyrant. You can read about the treatment plan I followed in this earlier post.

I think what threw me over the edge was his comment during my last pregnancy, once we learned that our sweet pea’s little heart was struggling to keep going, that I had something to do with the potential outcome of loss. That I had been told to come for acupuncture three times a week and take my herbs twice a day and eat two eggs a day and don’t raise my arms over my head and to stay in bed all day everyday….on and on. It was my fault we Iost the baby. Period. I hadn’t done everything he suggested. How could I!? The list was endless. I came pretty damn close, I really did.

Not only did I have to travel almost two hours each way to see him three times a week but I was being blamed for moving around too much to get there. The anxiety, on top of my fear of losing a fifth sweet pea, was nearly unmanageable. I was paying him over £600 a week to be told that was my lack of emotional control was causing the miscarriage too.

Aside from that I loved the acupuncture. I love the herbs. I could feel them working. My hormones were balancing at last. And I learned a lot about my BBT. I have no doubt that the practioner is very knowledgable but I think he is lacking some serious bedside manner. Nothing was worth feeling like I was to blame for losing our little one. Especially as there was no controlling or fixing that. We lost him to a tragically fluke a chromosomal abnormality, independent of egg, sperm, environmental quality. It just happened.

My new practitioner, Ms Lovely, is the most fabulously positive individual I’ve encountered as far as healthcare providers go on this wretched journey. She’s completely 180 from the last guy. First off, she quit her last job with a very exclusive world renown fertility clinic because she didn’t agree with the excessive pricing regime. She didn’t want to be a part of the commercialism that has taken over the world of infertility. She understands that people struggling with infertility often don’t have a lot of money because they are paying for treatment through the nose, but they are willing to remortgage their homes, work two jobs, scrimp and save to bring home their sweet pea. She went out on her own to help people. Her pricing is fair, and a fraction of what I was paying before. For this I love her.

Thankfully she believes in the benefits of other holistic treatment. She believes that as long as the body and mind are in harmony and well looked after, you can pretty much do what you like within moderation and it will have positive effects on fertility. She’s chilled about how and when I take my herbs, as long as I take them. I can eat fruit, I can do moderate exercise, I can eat a little bit of chocolate or drink a little wine now and then if I want. Anything that makes me happy as long as it’s not excessive. It’s happiness that she’s trying to get to.

The last guy made life so difficult that I felt I was no longer in control of my life or my pregnancy. Fear mongering in such a desperate circumstance. I would do nearly anything to have a child but I was losing sight of my own needs.

The way Ms Lovely handled the AMH situation has been so reassuring. She patiently answered my 6,333 questions about it and she went ahead to say she is confident we will not only conceive with my eggs but will carry our first sweet pea to term. That’s some pretty crazy confidence but at least one of us has some.

And while the needles are doing their thing she doesn’t leave me there like the last guy. She spends time either giving me a head massage, back rub or abdominal sacral massage for a full hour. I leave there so content, relaxed and peaceful. So completely different from my last experience. My homework this week? Try a floatation tank. Now that I can do.

The Hubs loves her too and we agreed she is the right woman for us. Her approach is practical, gentle and understanding, just the kind of thing I need in my life right now.

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V is for Valium

I don’t get much sleep these days. Every night is a struggle, an internal battle. I try to keep the demons at bay, try not to give in to my subconscious reminding me that this will never work.

The nightmares, the anxiety attacks, the sleep-crying, they all creep in when I’m my most vulnerable in the middle of the night.

So I am so very happy the little pill of bliss has entered my life. Something to numb the pain temporarily. Something to quiet the noise. At least for a short time.

Tonight is one of those nights. It’s been that kind of week. Tonight I will V up and shut my brain to the world for a full 8 hours and wake up in an oblivious daze.

I am so tired in so many ways.

First LIT treatment

Well we went for it. Yesterday I had £1200 of the Hubs white blood cells pumped into my forearms. The first of a few to come over the next few months.

Despite the controversy we opted in.

In the UK Lymphocyte Immunisation Therapy, otherwise known as paternal white blood cell immunisation, doesn’t carry the same dark cloud as it does in the US. According to our immunologist it carries even less risk when using the husband’s blood as opposed to an anonymous donor. Blood products are blood products and they always pose a risk but I’m told this process is handled delicately and efficiently to ensure the highest quality.

LIT is used for a few reasons but in my case it was suggested when I had a shockingly low Leukocyte Antibody Detection, a test that determines if I produce enough antibodies to protect an embryo from rejection and stimulate growth of the placenta. As the Hubs puts it, I’m allergic to him, or not allergic to him enough.

The treatment should result in the formation of blocking antibodies in my body, allowing the protection of an embryo in the womb.

My concerns were all related to how this would affect my immune system in the long run, rather than the risks involved with introducing another’s blood product into my body. I know my husband is healthy. What I don’t know is how the introduction of his white blood cells impacts my system overall. Our immunologist assures me that I won’t be on it long term, and that we have another session coming up in a few weeks followed by another one should we be lucky enough to get another chance at conceiving again. And that it won’t damage or cause issues with my immune system.

The procedure itself was interesting. The Hubs had to be screened for HIV, Hep B and C and other infectious diseases two days before the procedure. Even though he’s been screened for these before, he had to be tested immediately before the procedure to minimise any risk to me. They say that really I’m at a risk of all of these things if he was carrying them anyway since I tend to have sex with him, but heck why take any chances. Good news is he’s clean.

Two days later we arrived at the immunologist’s office at 8am where they withdrew half a pint of blood from the Hubs using what looked like a chopstick instead of a needle. His grimace said it all. Looks like we’re both taking one for Team Sweet Pea.

We are told to go to the pharmacy, buy a tube of topical anaesthetic and put the whole thing on both undersides of my forearms at least an hour before the procedure. Wrap then in cling film and come back at 3pm. Seems rather unclinical but we do as we’re told.

We clumsily eject the contents of the tube onto my arms while perched in the middle of a busy Pret a Manger smiling at all the inquisitive, awkward glances. Wrap my arms in cling film which attracted a whole other set of glances and off we went back to the office. By then, they will have sent the blood to a specialist lab, where it was washed, treated and white blood cells extracted. The white blood cells fill a syringe that will be injected under my skin on the underside of both my forearms.

As they prepare my forearms, I ask, what can I expect, as everything I’ve read indicates that it’s excruciating. They tell me like it’s painful, like being stung by a wasp 15 times in each arm. Hmm, compared to an HSG I can handle that. I have a high tolerance for pain, especially when I know we may potentially gain from it. What will happen, I ask. They tell me I will get hot, flushed and probably will swell up on the arms. It will become itchy, scratchy, sore and might spread into a rash but after a few days it will cool down. What are the immediate risks, I ask again. Anaphylaxis, fainting, but more than likely I’ll just get a little allergic, feel stuffed up, swell up a little and have some irritation. Ok let’s do this.

Good news is the topical anaesthetic worked in some areas. The bad news is it didn’t work everywhere. Thirty wasp stings is an understatement. It hurt like a motherfucker. I watched as the skin bubbled and bruised as a little bit of liquid filled each hole. I was cooed and encouraged by the lovely nurses, reassured by the Hubs and it was over within a few minutes. I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs like the last lady. I didn’t faint like the woman last week. I just held the Hubs hand in such a way I may have cut off all circulation, judging by the way he shook it afterwards. But it’s done. And I have a nasty rash on my arms to prove it.

I’ve got to say though that’s it’s nice for once to have a procedure that abuses another part of my body, instead of my poor old miserable uterus. She thanks me for that.

Today all I feel is sore, hot and a bit unwell. It feels irritated and sore and itchy. I took a few antihistamines to stop the stuffiness which worked. Now we go back within 2 – 3 weeks for the next session. Apparently I’ll be sensitised to that one, and it will hurt less. Then we go back in early pregnancy if we are lucky enough to get that far.

Either way, I’m ready if this gets Team Sweet Pea closer to the prize. Despite the risks we are throwing everything at this. I feel like it’s where we are right now. That might change in the future but today it’s full steam ahead.

She’s back

Well Aunt Flo has finally made a most dramatic entrance. Unfashionably late. Downright rude. 21 DPO and in she walks.

The way the last three weeks have unfolded has been interesting to say the least:

• One week of waiting
• One week of 400mg progesterone twice a day
• Overlap that with 10 days of testing
• And more waiting
• 5 BFNs
• 3 days of crazy symptoms
• 1 faint very late BFP
• 1 stark white BFN
• Followed by monstrous cramps and vengeful AF

They think it might have been a chemical pregnancy but they can’t be sure. Because I refused a beta test. What’s the point? It’s not going to change anything.

It’s something about the emotional investment needed to go through that again, it just wasn’t something I could do this time.

So I’m choosing what I want to believe. I am choosing to believe that progesterone lengthened my cycle and messed with my system. Because it did. What happened in between no one can say for sure. And that’s ok. I’d rather not speculate. I’d rather focus on the future. Whatever that brings.

Q&A session with the Center for Human Reproduction

Reblogging this super thorough collaborative post on DHEA. Check it out xx

NewtoIVF

A while ago the wonderful @ivffervescent collated questions from the infertility twitter and blog world about DHEA, and worked with the Center for Human Reproduction in New York to get us some answers to these questions. Unfortunately, @ivffervescent had some ‘identity issues’ with her blog and had to delete it, and is therefore unable to publish the Q&A. Which is where I come in. Never one to turn down an opportunity to look like a super hero without actually having to do any work I agreed to publish the results on her behalf. So….

Disclaimer:  The answers are general recommendations, and that readers should consult their physician or knowledgeable reproductive endocrinologist before they start DHEA supplementation.

Question 1 (submitted by On Fecund Thought / @onfecundthought )

a)  How is DHEA thought to improve egg quality exactly?

DHEA is converted into androgens (mostly testosterone) in the body. CHR’s research (following…

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Remembering

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Today, 15 October, is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Sending out love and kindness and virtual hugs to everyone out there who has lost a sweet pea. I am thinking of you all and holding you close.

And tonight, at 7pm, I’ll be lighting five candles of my own.

xx

Is history repeating itself?

It is 5am on CD35 / 16DPO and I’m kind of freaking out. Not in a good way.

Where the hell is Aunt Flo? Why have I had 16 consecutive high temps and three BFNs? I have tested on 9dpo, 12dpo and 15dpo and nothing. Where are the cramps, the mood swings, the headaches? Instead I’ve got the hum in my abdomen, the sore boobs, the restless legs, the sleepless nights, the unusual twinges.

Historically all these things meant one thing. I fear history is repeating itself. These symptoms + late BFP + late implantation = miscarriage in my world. Nothing else.

This was supposed to be fixed by taking progesterone after ovulation as New Clinic suggested. They even said it would make it harder to get pregnant. I followed their instructions and stayed on it for a week, one week after ovulation. POAS. If BFN stop and AF will appear. Well AF is MIA. We had imagined this cycle was a bust. I was OK with that. I was already focused on the next.

They said it themselves. Late implantation and late BFP means over 90% risk of loss. Over 90% likelihood of chromosomal abnormality. The later it gets, the worse the outcome. Is this Super Fertility in action yet again?

Now I’m stuck in this strange purgatory. I never thought I’d beg to see AF. I’d take her over a late BFP at this stage I’m sad to say. I’m not ready to be told of the likelihood of miscarrying again. Not now. Not like this. I can’t go through this again so soon.

In the meantime I am hoping late ovulation this cycle just means late AF. That maybe my cycle is just out of whack. Maybe it’s the UTI and kidney infection I’ve been battling causing the raucous. I’m hoping that’s all it is. But I’m on the lookout for soreness on one side, as an ectopic pregnancy can produce late BFPs too. And I’ll test again on Monday, when 18 consecutive high temps only mean one thing.

6 is my lucky number. It’s not meant to happen this way. I knew it would never be easy, but to be filled with hopelessness and dread even before it begins isn’t how I hoped things would go.